Officials said that thousands of displaced tunnel workers have resorted to panning activities along the town’s riverbanks.
“They are waiting at the riverbanks for loose gravels containing gold particles,” said Lourdes Jumilla, head of the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board secretariat.
Some, she said, have been lucky to have gathered a milligram or even a gram of gold.
To prevent disasters in the tunnels, Jumilla said the provincial government hired mine safety inspectors to monitor the area.
“Fortunately, there’s no report yet of tunnels collapsing due to the almost continuous rains. We hope this would not happen,” Jumilla said, adding that the tunnels are now submerged in water.
She said that it would be very costly for the operators to remove the water from these tunnels.
The provincial social welfare office, meantime, have dispatched warning to affected municipalities to relocate residents from landslide and flood prone areas following an advisory from the Office of Civil Defense that warned or more rains due to the inter-tropical convergence zone.
Haide Lacdo-o, acting provincial social welfare chief and disaster coordinator, said they are closely monitoring the water level at Lake Maughan, also in T’boli town, to avoid a repeat of the 1995 disaster. Some 30 million cubic meters of water flowed out from the lake after a portion of the lake caved in supposedly because of treasure hunting activities.
It left 53 people dead and damaged P212 million worth of properties and infrastructures, making it the worst disaster to hit South Cotabato in decades. (MindaNews)